Hello, Hawaii football! The delayed, then abbreviated 2020 University of Hawaii football season got off to a rousing start yesterday, as the Rainbow Warriors beat Mountain West rival Fresno State, 34-19, in Fresno. In securing the win, Todd Graham became the first UH football coach since Bob Wagner in 1987 to win his Hawaii head coaching debut. Here are some quick notes and observations on the contest:
Hawaii’s Chevan Cordeiro attempts a pass against Fresno State.
♦ SHAKY START: It didn’t look good early on for Hawaii, as Lincoln Victor coughed up the football on the opening kickoff, leading to a quick Fresno State TD. Also, the UH offensive line, billed as the team’s strongest unit, struggled to protect QB Chevan Cordeiro. The defense was giving up yardage in chunks. And new placekicker Matthew Shipley, a true freshman, missed his first collegiate field goal attempt.
♦ INSTANT IMPACT: Hawaii’s victory was aided by several new Rainbow Warriors. Senior transfer Calvin Turner lined up at running back, receiver and wildcat QB, and finished with 83 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs. Transfer Rico Bussey lived up to the preseason hype, snaring 8 receptions for 86 yards. Hybrid LB Quentin Frazier had a sack, 3 tackles for losses, and a forced fumble. And Shipley bounced back to contribute a pair of key FGs.
♦ GROUND & POUND: Who ever could have predicted that Hawaii would run the ball 53 times against the Bulldogs? (Last season, the most rushing attempts UH had in one game was 39, against UNLV.) Hawaii had 323 yards on the ground yesterday (last season’s high was 255 yards). QB Chevan Cordeiro ran for a career-high 116 yards, while RB Miles Reed had 109 yards. The last time Hawaii had two players with more than 100 yards in a game was 2013, when Joey Iosefa and Steven Lakalaka each broke the century mark.
♦ SIMPLY CHEVAN: Cordeiro was outstanding, using his arm and legs to amass 345 yards in total offense (229 passing, 116 rushing). While he did not have a TD pass, he did have 2 rushing TDs. His 54-yard scamper down the left sideline late in the fourth quarter was his career best. Still a sophomore, Cordeiro is now 5-0 as a starter.
♦ GIMME DAT: Perhaps the biggest factor in the victory was Hawaii’s 4 takeaways, including 3 interceptions (2 by Eugene Ford and 1 by Jeremiah Pritchard). The 4 takeaways were the most for UH since the program’s 2016 win over Tennessee-Martin.
♦ QUOTABLE: Coach Graham: “I can’t tell you how good it felt. I thanked the team before the game for giving me the opportunity to coach them. Man, it felt great to lead these kids. I’ll tell you this: We made some mistakes, but they gave the effort.”
♦ WHO’S NEXT: The team will remain on the mainland and will take on Wyoming this Friday at 3:45 p.m. HST. The Cowboys fell to Nevada in overtime, 37-34. Wyoming’s starting QB, redshirt sophomore Sean Chambers, was knocked out of the game with a broken fibula in the first quarter. ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM/1420 AM) will provide full coverage of the game, including the pre-game “Countdown to Kickoff” show two hours before kickoff.
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